Header NAS Award for Scientific Discovery

The NAS Award for Scientific Discovery is awarded every two years to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research within the past five years. The fields of science for each presentation will rotate from among chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, astronomy, physics, and materials science. Endowed in 2014 in honor of John P. Schaefer through a gift (Press Release) from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) and the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation. This award is presented with a medal, a $50,000 cash prize, and $50,000 to support the recipient’s research.

Jonathan S. Weissman, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor in the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, is the recipient of the inaugural NAS Award for Scientific Discovery – presented in the field of chemistry, biochemistry, or biophysics.

In 2009, Weissman and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, developed a technique called ribosome profiling. With this technique, researchers can sequence the chunks of messenger RNA (mRNA) that ribosomes are decoding, giving a snapshot of the genes being translated within a cell. First applied to yeast, ribosome profiling has been since been extended to many other organisms, including humans. It has been used to identify new proteins and peptides, investigate the process of translation, measure gene expression in cells and determine rates of protein synthesis. In addition, Weissman and his team have employed ribosome profiling to make important insights into the critical role that protein synthesis plays in cell growth and differentiation.

Recipients:

Jonathan S. Weissman (2015)
For his 2009 development of ribosome profiling, a powerful technique that makes possible genome-wide analysis of protein synthesis in living cells at high resolution, and its subsequent use to reveal many unanticipated, critical molecular insights concerning the process whereby RNA sequences are translated into protein sequences.

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